I am glad to announce, that I was selected to show the Strangelove Project
at the Noorderlicht International Photofestival 2009
Human Conditions 6 September through 4 October 2009 Groningen, the Netherlands
Wim Melis War Machines
What are arms without war? In an intriguing exhibition Simon Norfolk, P.W. Voigt and Gabriel Jones (a.o.) each in their own way isolate tanks, aircraft and rockets from their raison d’etre. What meaning, what significance do they have when they fall into disuse? A couple of times a year nuclear rockets without their warheads are fired from California in the direction of the Marshall Islands. In ‘Full Spectrum Dominance’ Simon Norfolk (GB) records this test ritual – a ritual which during the Cold War called up associations of threatened extermination, but in the current climate strikes one as risible. ‘Strangelove’, the contribution by P.W. Voigt (DE), dissects the madness of armaments by looking at their public function in peace-time, from the flexing of muscles in parades through the devout silence of the museum. The emotional freight changes with time. The threat of a bloodbath becomes the memory of that fear, the excitement makes way for sentiment and pathos. In ‘Irhann’ Gabriel Jones (US) goes a step further. His rockets, or parts thereof, are stripped of every scrap of glory by dumping them in a fictional landscape. They are inert, overgrown, abandoned. But what sort of rockets are they? Are they nuclear death-machines or booster rockets for satellites, icons of progress? Jones leads the viewer down the garden path. Are we looking at the desolate landscape of a long-forgotten war, or simply at civilian material that has been put out to pasture? In all these contributions the machines, symbols of might and destruction, lose their terrible charge. What is left is the absurdity of war.